Thanksgiving (US) Holiday — The North Star Reports – by Lee Bongey. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Thanksgiving (US) Holiday — The North Star Reports – by Lee Bongey. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Turkey (On our best china!)

All throughout my childhood, my household typically celebrated a very small-scale Thanksgiving with just the immediate family, since the rest of our relatives live on the east coast. My immediate family is very close-knit to begin with, so this holiday isn’t really vastly different from our usual lifestyle, but Thanksgiving is still probably one of my favorite holidays.

For our Thanksgiving feast, my family prepares and eats all of the standard foods of this holiday, such as turkey, mashed potatoes, peas, sweet potatoes, and cranberries. This year, my family and I speculated on how turkey came to be the primary Thanksgiving food. Supposedly, the tradition originated with the holiday itself and the pilgrims, but we discussed how the turkey feast was more likely popularized in the mid-1800s by Abraham Lincoln. Turkey was relatively affordable and easy to make yet made for a fancy meal that was large enough to serve many people, so turkey was a good meal that many could have for Thanksgiving. It is interesting to consider such a cultural food in a more functional way.

Eating Our Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving is one of the rare holidays in my family where everyone is in good spirits, and we don’t have the typical miffs that are usually present in our normal daily interactions. While tasty food is certainly a valid reason for high spirits, I also think that the goodwill in my family on Thanksgiving is also largely due to a tradition that we have after we’ve eaten, which is also probably the main reason why I like this holiday so much. After we finish our feast, each member of my family will take turns going around the table, stopping at each person and saying why we’re thankful for him or her. Things that the family member has done that year which we’re proud of, or just general personality traits that we appreciate are mentioned during this little ritual. While it’s a little corny, I really love this tradition. It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to articulate why we’re thankful for everyone, and it’s very sweet to hear why everyone is thankful for you.

My family's thankfulness tradition

This holiday is becoming more and more meaningful to me, especially since I left for college. Every year the realization that my family won’t always be together becomes stronger, so now I think that I am able to appreciate and enjoy the holiday and our traditions much more than I used to!

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at)

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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

We thank The Department of History and Politics for its generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at)


Filed under North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

18 responses to “Thanksgiving (US) Holiday — The North Star Reports – by Lee Bongey. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

  1. Karn Pederstuen

    Thank you for sharing your family’s Thanksgiving traditions! I really liked the tradition you shared about your family going around the table and sharing why you are thankful for each person. That is such a sweet idea and a wonderful way to make memories!

  2. David Miller

    A similarity we have in our family thanksgivings is the food prepared, and you listed just about the same food my family prepares. One thing I find really cool is that your family goes around the table saying how you are thankful for one another. I also have found more value in all of the family holidays, because of my being away at school.

  3. Carley Henning

    I really liked your tradition of going around the table and telling someone why you’re thankful for him/her. It just shows the actual meaning of Thanksgiving and why we celebrate it in the first place. Very cool idea!

  4. Katy goerke

    Your family’s small traditions make a big difference in your life. It’s good to value other people, as it seems the ironic tradition of Thanksgiving and other large familial gatherings (at least in my family) to get very annoyed with our relatives. It’s nice to see how people do this well.

  5. Kaitlyn Young

    I loved the explanation of your family tradition; we do something similar at my Thanksgiving! I love the holidays because I get to go spend time with my family. i agree with you saying that as you get older, you come to appreciate your family and their traditions more and more. This is definitely true for my life. I appreciate the little things so much more now that I’m older. Great article!

  6. Kyle Hellmann

    I like your tradition of going around the table, as my family as a similar one. Before the meal we think of one thing that we are thankful for, and then share with the table. It’s a really great way to share memories and stories also, and you are right, it certainly makes it much more special. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Rachel Studley

    I love your thankfulness ritual! Thanksgiving is my favorite because its so simple like how you described just tasty food and family. I also find that I have gained a new appreciation for the holidays and spending time with my relatives now that I have been away at college.

  8. Donovan Chock

    Wow that ritual of going around the table is such a good idea! My family did something like that where we were all given little notebooks and we wrote down notes for everybody telling them why we love them. It’s definitely heartwarming. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Bao Vang

    I do understand where you are coming from, when you stated that you enjoy holidays more now that you are away from home. Since I live on campus for the past 1.5 years, I do cherish my time more when I go home in the cities. The time spent with my family does feel more special to me now since I only see them four times a school year. I love how you and your family goes around stating why you are thankful for each other. I feel that even though my family is close; we wouldn’t be able to go around saying why we are thankful for each other. Therefore, I admire your family that you guys do that on Thanksgiving.

  10. Andy Lawrence

    I can relate to this. This Thanksgiving for me was very different since I couldn’t go home to my immediate family for Thanksgiving. So, now I go to Thanksgiving with my cousins. But, it is still very special. I never thought that I would love Thanksgiving so much because it is such a great time to be together and be with your family and friends.

  11. Becca

    I like how you express your thanks for each person during Thanksgiving! It’s nice how the day is free from the little tiffs that often happen with families – because my family is so large, and we rarely have the opportunity to spend time with each other, there’s always some kind of drama. It’s bittersweet when holidays become even more special because you’re away from home. I have yet to experience it, but it’ll be happening soon.

  12. Austin Kindt

    I loved the tradition your family does by going around the table saying thanks and appreciating everything you have. My family does this in a similar fashion by going around the table and each one praying and giving thanks to God for all that we have. My grandma in Ohio has a horrible tradition during Christmas by making us all sing the twelve days of Christmas song based on which musical plate you are assigned. Its pretty painful and most of us can’t carry a tune.

  13. Hannah Kunde

    I think it is great that your family holds so much tradition when comes to coming together for a holiday. I think holidays can become very commercialized and it is difficult to keep traditions alive as we get older and start traveling farther and farther away from family. I also think it is awesome that you make the most out of family meetings and now have even more memories to share at the next family holiday.

  14. Mike Lehmann

    I get the same feeling. Lately more and more I have been appreciating the holidays and what they stand for. I think its awesome that you and your family actually speculated as to why turkey became the main food, that would have been cool to listen to. Traditions are an important part of any culture and it is important that we preserve those.

  15. Chelsey L

    I love hearing different family traditions! That’s awesome that you guys go around and say why and who you are thankful for. Hearing how everyone has a way of connecting even just coming together for thanksgiving is awesome. Thanks for sharing your traditions.

  16. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday as well. It is very special to me because it is the one holiday that I see everyone in my family. Cherishing the special moments in life are the most important.

  17. Michel Doege

    I feel the same, that away from home definitely makes an impact on how much more you value time with your family. Your Thanksgiving sounds like a lot of fun and with your ritual at the end I see how your family is closely knit. My family doesn’t really have traditions like that other than gathering for the meal but I still have that sense of happiness like you when we gather for holidays. It is always important to put apart our differences for a day and gives thanks, thanks for sharing!

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